The state Medical Marijuana Commission licensed the state’s 38th dispensary Tuesday but decided not to act on the state’s final two license applications, which expire Jan. 9. The license went to 3J Investments, owned by Jeffery Catlett Fitch and Jeremy Ruiz, who will open the facility in Lamar (Johnson County). The decision came after some uncertainty among commissioners about which dispensary applicant was next in line to receive a license in Zone 4, which consists of eight counties between Conway County and the Oklahoma border.
Based on the scoring on its initial application in 2017, River Valley Relief of Fort Smith was next in line to receive a license in Zone 4, but commissioners learned before the meeting that the business entity owning River Valley Relief Dispensary (River Valley Sales, LLC d/b/a River Valley Relief Dispensary) had been dissolved and was not properly registered with the secretary of state’s office. Amendment 98 to the state constitution requires licensees be “incorporated in the state of Arkansas.”
In a letter to the commission, River Valley Relief argued that it should be granted the license based on access and need in the area. A representative of the company attended the meeting via Zoom but was not allowed to speak.
The commissioners debated whether they should consider River Valley Relief as next in line or whether they should disregard that application and move on to 3J Investments.
“You’re probably going to get sued either way,” Sara Faris of the state attorney general’s office advised the commission. The commission unanimously voted to consider River Valley Relief as dissolved and to issue the license to 3J Investments. [In the application scoring process, River Valley Relief originally scored 7th, and 3J originally scored 8th. Two companies that placed ahead of them (1st and 2nd) chose to use their applications in other zones and discard their applications in this zone, which bumped River Valley to 5th place in the scoring, and 3J to 6th place].
With this license, Zone 4 has reached the commission’s maximum of five dispensaries allowed in a zone. The other dispensaries are in Russellville, Morrilton, Clarksville and Fort Smith.
According to Amendment 98, the commission may issue up to 40 licenses. The commission chose not to issue the final two licenses, which would have been for zones 6 and 8. It has set its next meeting for Jan. 19, 10 days after the last two applications expire. Unless an emergency meeting is held by Jan. 9, the commission will need to carry out a new application process.